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Less is always more when it comes to Timex. It’s not always about having as many bells and whistles – a grande sonnerie pun iykyk – as possible on the watch face. Which is why, when Timex asked their design director, Giorgio Galli to create the most ‘Timex’ Timex ever made, he came up with S1 Automatic 38mm, an effortlessly sleek model that is understated, but with attitude. Our Editor-in-Chief, @scarlintheshire got hands on with the model in this month’s chapter of ‘Time Spent With’ trialling watches first-hand. 

While I’ve always led my life in maximalist pursuit, where more is always certainly more, the Timex S1 38, at first impression, was a little out of my comfort zone. I was soon to be proved wrong. 

Timex has long established itself as a household name. It’s a globally recognized entity, not to be confused with the other one ending in -ex. Even if you can’t picture a model, you’ll know that name, and that certainly means something. Priding themselves on a clean, sleek, aesthetic, you’d be foolish – I say this having been the fool – to position Timex as just another watch brand. 

Rather, a rebel watchmaker with a cause, Timex was established in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company, turning a 300-year-old industry upside down. Stamping out gears out of metal, instead of carving them from wood, they  made smaller, more accurate movements – the bit that makes the watch tick –  faster than ever before. In fact, even Detroit’s automakers were inspired by their assembly lines when the automobile became a thing.

Positioned around the idea that watches have souls and embody a greater anthropological purpose, neat indicators of our outward personality, and by 1901, the house’s dexterous movements could fit in your pocket for just $1, something unimaginable with the rapidly growing expense of today’s market. Positioned as the people’s watchmaker, valuing affordability and utilitarian quality, Timex soon helped the trains run on on time in the Wild West. 

While it might sound all very Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, in the first half of the 20th century, Timex became a symbol of an independent woman. *Cues Destiny’s Child* In a male-dominated  watch world, Timex liberated the market with thoughtful designs and small movements that didn’t sacrifice legendary durability.‌ And as the world entered the space age, making steps on the moon, Timex meanwhile were replacing winding brass springs by counting the vibrations of a quartz crystal. These tiny electric movements meant you never had to wind your watch again, meaning designers were no longer bound to the shape and size of a mechanical movement. The Q Timex series reshaped watches for a new generation.

While you might think of Timex as a quartz model today, regarded for its popularity, the brand still firmly holds a foot in the mechanical world, with the S1 38 taking centre stage as an automatic watch, meaning the movement from your wrist powers the watch, much like kinetic theory. 

And then came the Milan-based designer, Giorgio Galli knows what makes Timex tick better than anyone. Galli’s vision speaking to a generation who, as novices in the industry are welcomed to fuse their varied visions in art, fashion, culture, music and design, into a watch that is durable, highly-accurate, and versatile in its role to the wearer. For me, that meant being able to pair it with every outfit I wanted to throw on, even my leopard-print co-ord without ever feeling like it was too much. 

As it accompanied me on walks and evenings out – and even a trip to the epicentre of the watchmaking world itself – I found myself never really wanting to take it out, serving a potent reminder that sometimes less really is enough.

Getting to grips with all things Timex, we caught up with Giorgio Galli to discover the story behind the new model, and its futuristic outlook. 

The Next Hour: How has Timex evolved since its foundations in 1854?

Giorgio Galli: Timex has a long history full of phases that have continually evolved and changed through the decades – based on new technologies, history, global events and so on. The Timex of today continues to challenge the status quo, always looking forward but staying true to the Timex DNA of quality and value.

TNH: Can you talk us through your first introduction to the watch world? Was Timex a brand you were familiar with?

GG: I was very fortunate to craft my first experience in watch design with a major brand like Swatch. That experience gave birth to my passion for watches and the watch industry. From there I went on to work with many brands but it was Timex I was most passionate about. I always admired what Timex stood for – independence, timeless beauty, simplicity, humbleness, quality and value. For me it is truly an honor to be part of such an iconic brand and to continue to be part of its storied evolution.

TNH: The GGS1 Automatic is described as the most ‘Timex’ Timex ever made. What was your starting point and which historical references spoke to you in the brand’s history?

GG: The definition of the ‘The most ‘Timex’ Timex ever made’ came from Tobias Reiss-Schmidt, President and CEO of Timex Group. He challenged me to create a design that would complement the Timex brand portfolio, yet was distinctive and personal.  The GGS1 was born out of the Timex ethos, I wanted to design something that was true to the brand but that had no boundaries, something that was born from sincere passion and my love of watches, design, art and most of all photography. More specifically, how light hits the surface and the visual perception from that point on – which created a watch  full of hidden details and technical mastery. The more you look or study the watch the more you will find new details, but at the same time it is not overdone.

TNH: Talk us through your passion for photography and how you decided to inflect this into the watch?

GG: My passion for photography goes hand in hand with my passion for design and creativity. It is part of a way to look at things and interpret into a product or a photo, it’s a lifestyle.  I have always been fascinated in how light forms shapes… the lens of a camera helps me to internalize and learn. This watch was inspired and built upon my passion for light, shades and shape. 

TNH: At Timex, how are you hoping to invite and welcome a new generation of young consumers into the world of watchmaking?

GG: We are very attentive of what is happening around us from world events, art, design, fashion world and trends. We have developed and internal division that focuses just on that and spends all day catching consumers and sociological trends. Every watch we create tells a story….through thoughtful design, brand partnerships and new innovations we are able to design collections and styles that appeal to many. For me, watchmaking is my passion and to see a consumer wear one of my designs is the ultimate compliment.

TNH: Finally, how does the GGS1 38 hope to challenge the status quo?

GG: For nearly 170 years, Timex has challenged the status quo always innovating and forward-thinking. Today is no different – we are a brand based on legacy, design, craftsmanship and purpose, which is everything the GGS1 stands for. The GGS1 collection does not follow any rules or requests from market it is an independent collection for which I conceived. I am very thankful to Timex for allowing me this opportunity, this is not a usual thing in the watch industry. The GGS1 is not the end of this story, I will be making another announcement later this year.

FILM CREDITS

Creative Director Scarlett Baker
Video Editor Michael Pietrzyk

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.